With varying degrees of surety, Broadway's 1996-97 season, which began June 1, will be seeing works by Anton Chekhov, Eugene O'Neill, Herb Gardner, Tennessee Williams, Cole Porter, Lillian Hellman and Ira Levin.
Revivals are scheduled for two musicals by John Kander and Fred Ebb: Cabaret at Roundabout Theatre Company and a transfer of the "Encores!" series' Chicago from off-Broadway, possibly to the Martin Beck Theatre. Kander and Ebb also are hard at work on two new musicals, Steel Pier and The Skin of Our Teeth (See separate story.)
Roundabout has said it intends to offer Cabaret in an unspecified cabaret setting. Roundabout also is planning a revival of the 1969 Tony winner, 1776, at its Criterion Center mainstage.
The season is starting early with a revival of Herb Gardner's A Thousand Clowns, which changed both leads and the director days before it was to begin previews. The production starts performances June 11, with no new opening yet scheduled.
Al Pacino will give a boost to the financially struggling Circle in the Square Theatre when he directs and stars in a midsummer run of Eugene O'Neill's Hughie.Another movie star, Mary McDonnell, will star as Alma Winemiller in a revival of Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke at Roundabout in August.
Several notable directors are behind big revivals. Gerald Gutierrez, who won the Tony Award for Best Director of a Play two years in a row (The Heiress in 1995 and A Delicate Balance in 1996) will return to Broadway this season with a musical -- a revival of Mary Rodgers' Once Upon a Mattress. The role that made Carol Burnett a star will be taken by Sarah Jessica Parker.
Lloyd Richards, who has become identified with playwright August Wilson from projects including Fences, The Piano Lesson and Seven Guitars is scheduled to direct James Earl Jones as Big Daddy in a revival of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Also, perhaps inspired by the Broadway success of OB experiments like Rent, Lincoln Center Theatre is hosting the Broadway premiere of Juan Darien, the experimental music-theatre work by Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal that uses puppets, masks and a carnival setting to tell an unusual folk tale. It's the production scheduled to reopen the refurbished Vivien Beaumont Theatre in October.
Here is a preview of planned revivals of plays and musicals that have announced they're headed for Broadway between June 1, 1996 and May 31, 1997:
SUMMER AND SMOKE: Revival of a drama by Tennessee Williams. Starring Mary McDonald; directed by David Warren. Previews Aug. 19, opens Sept. 5. Limited run through Oct. 13. Roundabout Theatre. (212) 869-8400
JUAN DARIEN: Experimental music-theatre work by Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal. October previews and opening TBA. Vivien Beaumont Theatre.
FIFTY MILLION FRENCHMEN: Revival of Cole Porter musical with Herbert Fields' libretto renovated by Evans Haile and Tommy Krasker. Fall 1996 previews and opening. Helen Hayes Theatre
CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF: James Earl Jones stars in all-black version of Tennessee Williams' play, directed by Lloyd Richards. Previews, opening and theatre TBA.
THE THREE SISTERS: Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Anton Chekhov drama. Previews and opening TBA. Criterion Stage Right Theatre.
CABARET: Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of John Kander/Fred Ebb/Joe Masteroff musical. Directed by Sam Mendes. Previews, opening and theatre TBA.
ONCE UPON A MATTRESS: Revival of musical by Mary Rodgers, based on "The Princess and the Pea." Directed by Gerald Gutierrez and starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Theatre, previews and November opening TBA.
DEATHTRAP: Revival of Ira Levin thriller, starring Elliott Gould and Mariette Hartley. Directed by John Tillinger. Theatre, previews and opening TBA.
1776: Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of Sherman Yelled/Peter Stone musical. Directed by Scott Ellis. Previews and opening TBA. Criterion Stage Right Theatre.
In addition to the above, Circle in the Square has said it intends to present a four-play season in 1996-97. The following are among plays under consideration.
* Separate Tables, a revival of the play by Terrence Rattan.
* Moon for the Misbegotten, revival of the Eugene O'Neill drama.
* Counsellor at Law, revival of the play by Elmer Rice.
* A new, yet-untitled play by Jane Anderson, who wrote the film American Quilt.
* The Importance of Being Earnest, revival of the Oscar Wilde comedy.
* Rocket to the Moon, revival of the Clifford Odets drama.